Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I grew up on police dramas like Dragnet, Adam-12, and The F.B.I. In these dramas, law-enforcement officers were men of stainless integrity who risks their lives to protect the public from the criminal element.

Of course, the reality is somewhat different. For one thing, the police are revenue collectors for the state. Enforcing speed traps and parking meters isn’t really a public service. It’s often petty, punitive, and pecuniary.

But there’s a deeper issue. Law enforcement doesn’t exist to protect the public so much as it exists to protect the state from the public. The police, DA, and other branches of law enforcement, are the strong arm of the state. The domestic army of local, state, and federal, government. They put boots on the ground. That’s how the government wields its will on the populace.

Good or bad, they enforce the law. When laws are good, law enforcement protects the public. But that’s a side effect of law enforcement. Laws can protect criminals and crack down on innocents.

Is theirs an honorable profession? That ultimately depends on what policies they are enforcing. As laws become more unjust, they are more like security forces, tasked to protect the ruling class from the masses.

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